20 Sports Power Couples of the '90s
Sports couples tend to get a surprising amount of attention. Even those couples in which one half of the pair is only famous for being married to a professional athlete are frequently featured in magazines and given their own reality shows.
Although the power couples in sports are those that have star power on both sides. When a professional athlete hooks up with another celebrity, the amount of public interest their union receives increases exponentially.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would be a pretty big deal even if he was married to some bum like me. The fact that he's married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, perhaps the most widely recognized model in the world for nearly a decade, has made him a much bigger deal.
Tom and Gisele are the sports power couple today, but the crown was passed down from the sports power couples of yesteryear. Which is a whimsical way of saying back in the '90s.
Mr. and Mrs. Brady were a couple of awkward and gangly teenagers when a previous generation of sports power couples roamed the earth. Some far more "powerful" than others.
So let's take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the most notable sports power couples of the '90s and see how many of their relationships were built to last.
Spoiler alert: Very few were.
Chris Webber and Nia Long
Actress Nia Long and now-retired NBA star Chris Webber dated from 1993-95, which was right around the time both of their careers were taking off.
Long had appeared in Boyz n the Hood, Made in America and Friday. Webber was selected by the Magic No. 1 overall in the 1993 NBA draft and traded to the Golden State Warriors.
Perhaps they broke up because they were young and being pulled in two different directions. Or maybe it was because Long met up with Will Smith, whom she dated briefly in 1995.
Jada Pinkett and Grant Hill
Back before she was Jada Pinkett Smith, married to mega movie star Will Smith, the actress dated now-retired basketball star Grant Hill.
At the time she was an actress on the sitcom A Different World and he was the 6'8" point guard at Duke University.
They dated for approximately a year around 1993. Who knows why those crazy kids broke up, but she met her future husband two years later. Seems like things worked out quite well for the both of them.
Candace Cameron and Valeri Bure
Towards the end of the show's run she attended a charity hockey game that Uncle Joey (aka Dave Coulier) was playing in.
Her co-star introduced her to NHL player Valeri Bure at the event and the couple immediately began dating. Cameron and Bure's relationship moved fast and furiously—they got hitched in 1996.
Things have worked out though, as they are still together today and have some number of children. I say "some" because I'm sure they have at least one, but I don't want to know any more information than that.
I already know too much.
Kobe Bryant and Brandy
For some reason in late 2012 R&B singer Brandy made an appearance on ESPN's morning screamfest FirstTake to deny that she had ever dated Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. She said they were just friends…and are still friends.
The two are generally assumed to have been in a relationship for a period of time in 1996, when Bryant showed up to his senior prom with Brandy on his arm. He wasn't in the NBA yet, but she was already a certified singing sensation and the star of her own sitcom. Naturally the event caused quite a buzz.
Brandy can deny it and Bryant can ignore it all they want, but they were spotted together on a number of occasions at the time. Something tells me all the secrecy has something to do with keeping something from Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's often-cheated-on wife.
Guess what. Sometimes the lies hurt worse.
Mike Piazza and Debbe Dunning
Back in 1998, actress/model type Debbe Dunning hooked up with famed MLB catcher Mike Piazza, which was right around the time he was traded to the Mets.
They were actually both at the peak of their respective careers at the time, even though one peak was substantially lower than the other. Piazza's career speaks for itself.
Dunning was best known as the "Tool Time Girl" on the sitcom Home Improvement and that's pretty much it. Unless bit roles things like Tales from the Crypt, Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Spring Break Blast count—they don't.
Their affair was brief, certainly less than a year, and today they are both happily married. Especially Piazza, who married a Playboy model in 2005.
Toni Braxton and Curtis Martin
There's not too much documented evidence of singer Toni Braxton and retired NFL running back Curtis Martin's relationship, but it definitely existed sometime between 1995 and 1997.
After becoming engaged to musician Keri Lewis in '97, Braxton reportedly denied rumors that she and Martin broke up after rejecting his marriage proposal.
She also decided to overshare the fact her "virtue was intact," as ABC News tactfully worded the tacky confession about her virginity. When are celebrities going to stop dropping the V-bomb for attention?
Mark Messier and Tyra Banks
Another coupling that has always been buzzed about was that of NHL great Mark Messier and Victoria's Secret model and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover girl Tyra Banks.
It wasn't exactly a high-profile romance with staying power, considering it may or may not have extended beyond one date. Banks, who was at the peak of her career at the time, never officially confirmed anything.
Messier, obviously wanting to brag a little, apparently discussed their relationship on The Howard Stern Show at some point. Can't blame him for that.
Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields
On a lovely spring day in April of 1997, tennis great Andre Agassi and model-turned-actress Brooke Shields married in a lavish ceremony at a California resort. Every detail of the nuptials were tediously reported in a People magazine feature shortly after the blessed event.
Seriously, every detail—including where they spent the night and what time they woke up the next day. Apparently that was the last day they spent together because when the couple field for divorce two years later it was revealed that they "maintained two residences" and were "incompatible in their tastes, natures, views and dislikes."
Shields also claimed they had spent three weeks tops together over the course of one year.
Years Agassi later revealed he and Shields never should have married in the first place. Uh…duh? The couple remain committed to hating each other to this day.
Anna Kournikova and Pavel Bure
There are still some questions surrounding the relationship of former tennis player Anna Kournikova and former NHL player Pavel Bure, a fellow Russian.
From what we know, the couple met in 1999 and began dating. Which was kind of weird because she was pretty seriously involved with Sergei Fedorov, who had been Bure's teammate at some point when they played in Russia.
There were engagement rumors, but the marriage thing didn't pan out because Kournikova probably couldn't handle the pressure of planning two weddings at once.
A year later, she married Fedorov—the couple had been together since 1997.
Anna Kournikova and Sergei Fedorov
Back when she was still playing tennis, Russian stunner Anna Kournikova's love life was quite a mystery. Her relationship with NHL superstar Sergei Fedorov reportedly lasted from 1997 through 2002, with a brief affair with Pavel Bure squeezed in sometime in 1999.
Yet for as famous as Kournikova had become, her romances remained relatively under the radar. She and Federov were married and divorced with no one being the wiser. It wasn't until at least a year after their divorce that Federov confirmed the union and the dissolution thereof.
Oh, and based on the rest of his statement, something tells me the breakup was Kournikova's doing. Poor Sergei confessed the couple had cut off all contact and that he would be avoiding all female contact indefinitely.
Kelly Slater and Pamela Anderson
Professional surfer Kelly Slater nabbed former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson in 1998. Unfortunately, she was famously married to drummer Tommy Lee from 1995-98, which means he was three years too late to the party.
The pretty pairing lasted less than two years—not too bad by Anderson's standards. She's had dozens of public relationships dating back to the late '80s, and the average lifespan is no more than a couple of months.
Anderson obviously got restless because within weeks of her breakup with Slater, she was already dating male model Marcus Schenkenberg. But apparently the two are still friends...so good for them…I guess?
Halle Berry and David Justice
Known for her notoriously bad taste in men, actress Halle Berry married retired MLB player David Justice in 1992. You could say that eventually there was trouble in paradise, assuming there was ever a paradise to begin with.
The couple separated in 1996 and their divorce was finalized more than a year later. And it was sealed with a restraining order, which Berry slapped on Justice.In an interview with Parade magazine in 2007, the actress revealed that she attempted suicide after the relationship collapsed.
Things are still dicey in Berry's love life, but Justice has been married since 2001 and has two children.
Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman
On a romantic Las Vegas "night" back in 1998, two kooks in love showed up to Sin City's Little Chapel of the Flowers looking to get hitched. Those love birds were Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman and famously sexy Carmen Electra, who is only famous for being sexy.
They arrived at 7 a.m. on the dot—just two hours before the chapel opened.
But since they had all their paperwork in order and $75, the bare-bones minimum for a service, someone saw fit to officially pronounce these two "deeply intoxicated" idiots, Mr. and Mrs. Idiot, 'til death do they part.
Or until annulment do they part. Which they did just nine days later, to the shock and awe of everyone on earth! Who didn't think these two were gonna go the distance? Kidding. Nine days was an achievement in itself.
You'd assume they'd have both been forever relieved, particularly Electra, but according to Rodman that's not the case. In 2006, he told Star magazine that Electra calls him the love of her life and wishes they had stuck together.
Anyone believe that? Me either.
Tatum O'Neal and John McEnroe
Former child actress Tatum O'Neal married famed tennis playing hothead John "You cannot be serious!" McEnroe in 1986. She was a famous Hollywood wild child and he had the temper of a starving bear. A match made in tabloid heaven.
Unfortunately, the couple had three children together—nothing against the kids—who made their inevitable divorce in 1994 quite complicated. Their entire relationship was spectacle. O'Neal descended into severe drug addiction and McEnroe's career began a steep decline.
Naturally, the media was on hand to document every sordid detail, of which there were countless. The two engaged in a fierce custody battle that dragged out for years and today McEnroe says their relationship is still "very up and down—more down than up."
Remember kids! This is what happens when fire and gasoline get married.
Madonna and Dennis Rodman
For as many people as pop star Madonna has dated over the years, which we all know is a lot, she's showed surprisingly little interest in athletes. Although, the singer was rumored to be the catalyst of the divorce between the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and his wife in 2008.
That was the first time Madonna had gotten down with an athlete in 14 years—she dated notorious NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman for a hot minute back in 1994. The fling was brief, but in 2011 Rodman told sports writer Graham Bensinger that he could've married her if he wanted.
Apparently, she was interested, but he thought her music sucked. Rodman also revealed details of their sexual relationship in the interview. Ever the gentleman.
Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece
Bronzed beauty Gabby Reece, a volleyball player with model good looks, was one of the preeminent sex symbols of the '90s. Which explains all that modeling work she did back then, including posing in the altogether for Playboy in 2001.
Reece met surfer Laird Hamilton sometime during those years and the couple married in late 1997. Although they remain together today, she actually filed for divorce from her husband at some point, before changing her mind a few months later.
In early 2013, Reece made some waves (get it?) when described the new dynamic of their marriage to NBC News. She described herself as "submissive" to Hamilton, choosing to make dinner, do the laundry, organize his schedule, and otherwise serve and obey.
Reece added that she communicates with Hamilton in a language that he understands—"through food and through sex."
Uh, sorry boys. She's taken.
Andre Rison and Lisa Lopes
The late singer of the hip-hop trio TLC, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, who died in a car accident in Honduras in 2002, was once involved in a highly combustible relationship with former NFL player Andre Rison. The couple's relationship lasted less than two years from 1993-94, but it was certainly an eventful two years.
In September '93, Rison was arrested after assaulting Lopes in the parking lot of a grocery store and threatening bystanders thinking of intervening by firing a gun. Of course the charges were eventually dropped.
Cut to a very late night in June '94, most of which had been spent with the couple in a heated argument. Rison decided to call it a night and walked out and Lopes responded by starting a fire in the bathroom of his million-dollar mansion.
The fire quickly got out of control and ultimately burned the whole damn thing to the ground. Lopes also smashed his truck and two Mercedes before all was said and done. She eventually turned herself in to the police and the couple eventually ended their relationship.
Andre Agassi and Barbra Streisand
Talk about one weird-ass coupling. Tennis player Andre Agassi, with a mullet that may have surpassed the man himself in its fame, and entertainment icon Barbra Streisand dated for a little over a year between 1992-93.
According to his autobiography, they met at a party at party at Streisand's Malibu home and Agassi was immediately smitten. And about their epic 28-year age difference? It added spice to the relationship because of the taboo nature.
At the time of their courtship Streisand said of Agassi: "He's very intelligent; very sensitive, very evolved; more than his linear years. And he's an extraordinary human being."
Unfortunately their love was fleeting and the relationship flamed out as quickly as it had started. Actually, fortunately might have been the word I was looking for there because…ew.
Sandra Bullock and Troy Aikman
Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and his wife of 10 years divorced in 2011, and the split was anything but amicable. In fact, it was downright acrimonious.
But before all that grownup messiness, Aikman was living it up as a celebrity superstar QB, and enjoying all the benefits that came with the position. Although it was never officially confirmed, one such benefit was dating actress Sandra Bullock, which he did in 1995.
At the time, Bullock's career was just taking off and Aikman was "The Most Eligible Bachelor in Texas." So who knows how long their relationship actually lasted. And, honestly, who cares.
Mariah Carey and Derek Jeter
Details are scarce on this one, but very early in his career with the Yankees, Derek Jeter dated singing sensation Mariah Carey. According to People magazine, the couple first met at a benefit for the Fresh Air Fund back in 1996.
They quickly began spending time together, with the official stance being that they were just "good friends." Of course they were.
A pretty transparent lie, but considering Carey was still married to music mogul Tommy Mottola at the time, you can see why they made the effort—futile as it may have been under the watchful eye of the New York media.
Two years later, Carey eventually fessed up to her relationship with Jeter, which was pretty much over. She had already moved on to her 'partying with Diddy in nightclubs' phase. All girls go through one.
**Especially me. My days partying with Diddy are all a haze at this point, but boy it was certainly a time. (That may or may not have existed in reality)
If you want to hear about them, follow me on Twitter—I'll make something up for you. Follow @blamberr